Tag Archives: daydreaming

Never Brag

My Mom taught me never to brag. She was the best mother in the whole world.

 
 
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Miss Minnie Gets Hitched

The invention of cell phones has permitted people everywhere to prove the adage “talk is cheap.” People talk on cell phones as they drive cars, shop, get their hair done, pump gasoline, and while they are standing in long lines at customer service in the supermarket waiting to buy lottery tickets when the Powerball gets above a half a billion dollars. All that blah-blah was nerve wracking to Miss Minniferd Morningstar who had taught English at Letongaloosa High School for the past 32 years. Miss Minnie used to interrupt people at social gatherings and town council meetings to correct their grammar. For her, correct grammar, diction, usage, and syntax were sacred. Folks in town tolerated Miss Minnie’s interrupting their conversations because they were awed by her knowledge of English and because Miss Minnie had inherited piles of money, and was generous with it. Miss Minnie began teaching public school the year she graduated from college. To teach back then you didn’t need a certificate beyond a bachelor’s degree. She went on to get her masters by taking summer classes at State University. It was at State U. that Miss Minnie first saw Reginald Danforth Suggs. Young Suggs had just been hired as a custodian at the School of Education building. Reggie owed his first two names to his mother who hoped he would rise above his working class roots. Reggie rejected those aspirations. He made his own choices about speech and career options. He and Miss Minnie clashed immediately because she walked on the floor of a hallway that Reggie had just mopped. “Lady, getcher clodhoppers offn’ mah floah,” Reggie growled. Minnie gave the barbarian a withering stare. “Are you addressing me, young man?” “Ain’t addressin’ nobody,” said Reggie, “Ahm tellin yew ta quit trompin’ on mah floah.” At that point Professor Blaine, a member of the graduate faculty, opened his office door. He had heard the exchange. “Hello, Miss Minniferd,” he said. “You can pick up your paperwork at the graduate school office down the hall.” And, “That will do, Reggie.” “Hummmph,” said Reggie, and shoved his mop bucket on down the hall. After Minnie had finished her business at the university and returned home, she realized she had mixed feelings about the encounter. The handsome janitor had acted boorishly, but Minnie somehow found herself intrigued. She made subtle inquiries and learned that Reggie had a high IQ, a gift for language, and an aversion to orthodox social behavior. The latter obviously limited his work options. But those options, she soon realized, coincided what with he wanted to do for a living–be a janitor. Reggie always told people he was a janitor–not a custodian, or a “custodial engineer.” After that, Reggie popped into Minnie’s mind at odd moments—as when she took a break from correcting papers, or was fixing a late-night snack. She dismissed the thoughts, but they kept popping up. And Reggie thought off and on about “that teecher woman” too. When they both sought his aid as an intermediary on the same day, Prof. Blaine became the expediter of their budding romance. After a short engagement the extraordinary couple married. It was a two-part wedding. The first ceremony and reception were held in the chapel and recreation room of the Custodial Workers Union Hall. A janitor, who was a lay pastor, presided. The second ceremony took place in the sanctuary of Letongaloosa’s fine old Episcopal Church under the direction of the Rev. Thomas Leon Harper, D.D. The betrothed wrote their own vows. The union hall ceremony, written by Reggie, was short. To wit: “Ah weel if you weel.” To which Minnieferd responded: “Shore.” The reception featured mounds of serve-yourself chicken nuggets, barbeque beef and pork, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, hard rolls and a huge chocolate layer cake with chocolate frosting. The service at the Episcopal Church, prepared by Minnieferd, lasted an hour, and included two numbers by the choir and short passages from Shakespeare, Tennyson, Wordsworth, and Ezra Pound. The reception featured peach tea and little round mints. Minnie’s vows included five “I do’s,” and four “I wills,” and one “absolutely” spoken on cue by the bride and groom. Minnie and Reggie…Reggie and Minnie…are happilying it ever after. -30-

 

Dr. Larry Day is a retired J-School Professor from KU and author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia available on Amazon

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Stressed

Hello, All!!

The clothing industry predicts that the global market for denim

jeans will be $64.1 billion by 2020. That’s billion (with a “b”).

Everyone—from the president of the United States to two-year-old

toddlers—wears jeans.

It wasn’t always so. Back in the day most of the teenage boys

wore cotton trousers to school. A few kids wore corduroy. In those

days denim was used almost exclusively to make work clothes. So to

be appropriately dressed, even working class kids wore cotton. Take

Elmont Richens, for example. He was a working class kid back then

and he wouldn’t have been caught dead walking into the high

school wearing jeans.

Decades passed—wars and rumors of wars, moon shots and

space ships, fads and fashions came and went—but Elmont retained

the cultural context of his youth—denim was used to make cheap

working class clothing. Good clothes were made with cotton.

Staying culturally naïve had been easy until recently. Elmont had

lived all his life in Port Hall, a village about 20 miles from

Letongaloosa. He was a bachelor and was shy. Even after moving

here he didn’t get around much. He was a good man. Good and

naïve.

Elmont loved to read and he went to the public library a lot.

One day he asked for a book that wasn’t available. The librarian

said, “They might have that book at the Letongalosa Community

Junior College library.”

I don’t work up at LCJC, “he said.

“Oh, you don’t have to be affiliated with LCJC to check out

books. Any resident of Letongaloosa can have a library cared.”

Elmont was delighted. He got a card and started checking books

out at the LCJC library. That’s where Elmont was when he saw the

girl in the stressed jeans.

She was walking toward him. She was tall. Her blonde hair was

pulled back in a ponytail. Her jeans had ragged horizontal holes in

the front of both thighs. There was a ragged square hole in the right

knee. The back pockets were patched with material from a red

bandana. The right leg had an eight-inch tear. She wore rubber flipflops.

Elmont’s heart went out to the waif.

Despite his shyness, he said:

“Miss, may I speak to you for a moment? This is awkward,” he

said. “My name is Elmont Richens. I grew up poor in a small town. I

know what it’s like not to be able to afford nice things. If you’ll let

me, I’d like to buy you some new clothing.”

At this point some readers are going to say that I ran into a plot

snag and decided to use dues ex Machina. That’s a literary device

some writers use to save a drowning plot. All I am going only going

to say is: sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

The young woman was not poor at all. She was rich. Her

name was Melissa Stafford, and she was president of Zeta Omega

Zeta, the wealthiest and most exclusive sorority on campus. She had

just finished attending a sociology class. The lecture: “Our Social

Responsibility in an Aging Population.”

Melissa extended her hand.

“Hi, I’m Melissa.”

“Where do you live, Elmont?”

“At 556 Horton Street. “

“It’s awfully hot. Did you walk all the way up to campus,

Elmont?”

“Yes. Look, I know what it’s like to not to have the right clothes.

I’d like to buy you a new pair of jeans.”

“Thank you, Elmont. That’s sweet of you. But these jeans are

brand new. My Mom bought them at Bloomingdales in New York

City. She gave them to me yesterday.”

“They’re NEW? You’re not poor?”

“No, Elmont, I’m not poor. Look, it’s quite a walk back to your

house. I’ll give you a ride home.

“You have a car?

“Yes. Stay here. I’ll be right back.”

A few minutes later Melissa pulled up at the curb in a grey 2015

Jaguar convertible.

Elmont stared for a long moment, then walked to the car.

“Hop in,” said Melissa.

-30-

 
Dr. Larry Day is a retired J-School Professor from KU and author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia available on Amazon.

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I Love A Parade

Emmaline loves Letongaloosa, but she isn’t from here.  She was born in Wyotah, a state way out West in the Rocky Mountains.

According to history, The Great Western Colonizer emigrated to the Wyotah valley from the East with a bunch of pioneers in 1846.  He was leading a band of social liberals who wanted to exercise their Constitutional right to become conservatives.  The Wyotah pioneers crossed the plains, climbed the Rocky Mountains, and stopped when they came to a desolate-looking valley.  There, according to legend, The Great Colonizer said, “This may be it,” and they decided to settle down.    That was July 24, 1847.

After much hard work the Wyotah pioneers made the desert blossom as a rose, and the Great Western Colonizer ordered settlers to spread out to the north and south.

Emmaline’s great grandparents moved south, and she was born in Buckboard,  asmall town a hundred miles from the capital of Wyotah.  Emmaline lived in Buckboard until she married me.

Now, five decades later, we still go to Buckboard to participate in the 24th of July festivities.

Up in The Place, Wyotah’s state capital, they mount a huge celebration on the 24th of July. There are concerts, fireworks, a marathon, a 10K race, and a hugely popular, miles-long parade.  The parade features beautifully decorated floats, dignitaries riding in new and antique convertibles, marching bands,  horse clubs, trained dog acts, stilt walkers,  flag-waving school children,  and a ton of sign-bearing church groups.

Buckboard has celebrated the 24th of July for almost as many years as The Place has.

The big events on the 24th are The Parade and The Demolition Derby, and The Fireworks.

The Parade has always been my favorite, but I was a bit disappointed in both The Demolition Derby and the Parade this year.  I was disappointed in the Demolition Derby because there is a dearth of 1970 and 1980 clunker automobiles in which helmeted contestants can drive around the rodeo arena and bash into each other

On the 24th , Main Street is lined with folding chairs,  some of which have been in place for several days. The celebration begins at 6 a.m. with the BOOM. That’s when the Buckboard Volunteer Firemen set off a blast that rattles windows all over town.  Then they drive the fire truck through town, its horns honking and its sirens blaring. At 7 a.m. everybody walks down to the city park for the annual Firemen’s Breakfast—pancakes, bacon, ham, eggs, pan-fried potatoes–served at picnic tables.

Emmaline and I watch The Parade from folding chairs on the steps of the Town Hall. By the time the honor guard marches by with the flags, Main Street is lined five and six deep with spectators.

The Parade begins at 10 a.m. and travels down Main Street from north to south.  My disappointment with this year’s 24th of July parade centered on quality, not quantity.   This year’s parade lasted longer and had more participants than ever before.  The problem was, there weren’t more floats, nor more bands,  there were just more vehicles.

The float on which “Miss Buckboard,” and her attendants rode was beautiful, as were the floats of “Miss Lakeville,” and “Miss Mount Oakdale,” from two nearby towns.

But after that it was vehicle after four-wheeled vehicle, mostly black, mostly newer SUVs, carrying advertising signs. The signs touted  everything from chiropractors and podiatrists to optometrists and dental hygienists. I counted five vehicles with “get out of debt” or “payday loan,” signs on them. Many of those opportunists threw handfuls of  candy to scrambling kids on the street.  One woman, pushed a big antique baby carriage, that had a sign advertising her child care service.  I didn’t mind that—at least she was walking.

Next year on the 24th ,  I’m going rent a big black SUV and  put a sign on it that that reads:  “ Infernal Revenue Service.”   I’m going to wear a dark suit, white shirt, a power tie, and dark glasses.  I’m going to stand, with a pen and notebook beside the SUV at the end of the parade route. I bet no one will notice the typo.                                                     -30-

 

Dr. Larry Day is a retired J-School Professor from KU and author of Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia available on Amazon.

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Food For Thought

Food show hosts are not at all  like Jack Spratt and his wife. The TV food hosts NEVER lick the platter clean.

Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available on Amazon.

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A Smart Aleck Geezer

I was working on a farm in Rupert, Idaho the summer after my senior year in high school.  I needed money to go to college in the fall.  The farm house was at a crossroads and there was a farm house across the street.  An old guy (not as old as I am now, perhaps) who came out to talk to me after I got  off work.  We’d talk about life and the weather and farming and such.

The old man  didn’t want to let on that he was hared of hearing so when he’d miss some part of my conversation  he’d fall back on the phrase, “That’s no joke,”  which he thought, would cover most statements I  might make.

I caught on to the ploy, and with teenager’s wit, I began telling him jokes.

To which he’d reply “That’s no joke.”

To which I’d reply, “Yes it was.”

Smart alak kid.  That’s what I was.  Now I’m a smart alak geezer, older (though less wizened) than he.
Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available on Amazon.

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Fill the Screen With SOMETHING

Twenty-four hour television news channels have to fill the screen with SOMETHING.  I like it when there’s no real news and the news channels have to make bricks without straw, and news without news.  You see the darndest  stuff:  like an hour-long birthday tribute to Gene Ahern, the creator of the one-panel 1930s cartoon “Our Boarding House.”

Larry Day is a retired KU J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available on Amazon.

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